So, ever since early April of this year, I've taken on the label of 'demiaroace'. Also referred to as being 'demirose'; with the 'ro' coming from 'romantic' and the 'se' coming from 'sexual'. I tend to flip-flop between which one I refer to myself as, but, given as they mean the same thing, I'm going to try to stick with 'demiaroace' for today, for simplicity's sake. For those uninitiated, this means that I'm both demiromantic and demisexual. For those even more uninitiated, it means that I am someone who does not feel romantic or sexual attraction to anyone unless a strong emotional bond is formed beforehand.
"But, Azure, isn't that just called being norm-?" No, it's not just being normal. And I know this because... I thought it was just being normal! For a long time! That's why it took me so long to realize that I was on the aroace spectrum! (Among other things.)
It started, as many things do, with YouTube. Specifically, JaidenAnimations' lovely video, 'Being Not Straight', in which she comes out as, discusses the identity of, and recounts her experiences as being, an aromantic asexual. And, well... I found myself relating to a lot of her personal anecdotes about early signs of her aromanticism. An uncomfortable amount.
Before this, I had known about aroace people, obviously. I'm dating one, first of all, but I follow a lot of LGBT+-centered accounts which discuss aroace issues. I thought that I knew everything there was to know about the aroace identity. Which is why I was so comfortable putting it aside and confidently saying I was not on the aromantic or asexual spectrum! But, somehow, something about how Jaiden spoke about it and about her experiences struck a chord in me. Which I would have brushed off, because, again, I had looked at the aroace spectrum already, and decided that it wasn't me!
But, then, near the very end of the video, Jaiden said the fateful words: "And don't be afraid to look more into aromanticism or asexualism if any of what I said in this video resonated with you, to any degree." Which, I mean... That was me! And I think something else that encouraged me was her immediately following that suggestion up with the sentiment of, 'You could fall under the spectrum, or you couldn't, but it doesn't hurt to look.' And, yeah, it couldn't hurt. So I did.
I went into the research knowing that I couldn't be completely without attraction, because I am attracted to my boyfriend. So, I looked more into specific labels under the aroace umbrella, with this as a guideline. And please keep in mind that I wasn't expecting to come out of this with anything! I was certain that this was just a, "Let's make absolutely sure before I close that box for good," sort of deal as I went through a few flow charts, a few guides, and then came to the conclusion that the only aroace identity that I could possibly be is demiaroace. So, I decided to look into that specifically. Look into that community, what they have to say about their experiences, just to get it off my plate and to be able to say that I had looked into it and come to the educated conclusion that it was not me.
But... Then... Just like with Jaiden's video, I started... Relating.
I remembered that the crushes that I had as a kid that weren't on my friends, I had consciously chosen to have, just so I could do things like write out names together and romantic stuff like that... Because I've always been a romantic person! I love love! I love specifically romantic love! Not just in concept, but applied to myself! But despite this hopeless romanticism, I felt a disconnect from the idea of 'love at first sight'. I never developed celebrity crushes. When my friend once asked to set me up on a blind date, I was shocked and absolutely rejected the idea. How was I supposed to fall in love with a person if we meet under a romantic context, without anything building up to that? Without any previous friendship or bond? Similar things went for the concepts of asking out someone I had just met, flirting with strangers! The idea of one-night stands! All of that, I felt a complete disconnect from, and even repulsion for, when all of those are things that are a part of relationship culture!
Because I'm a helpless romantic! I'm obsessed with all things romance! But I could only fathom having those sort of romantic encounters and storylines if we were friends first. And I thought that all of this had been more of a preference, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was an active lack of romantic or sexual attraction whatsoever to anyone who I wasn't already close with. Even a repulsion towards the idea of anything like that happening without being friends first, at times!
So... As a last resort, I crawled to my boyfriend. Hoping that he would tell me that what I felt was actually the norm, and I was right all along. But once I began to talk about these feelings and experiences, he affirmed them and related to them, as someone on the aroace spectrum pupself.
It took me a few months to get used to the idea. I'm still getting used to it. I'm still trying to wrestle with the contradiction that exists with someone who loves romance as much as I do being on the aroace spectrum.
But maybe there's not a contradiction in it at all. Because, in the words of my friend, "Romantics love the friends to lovers trope. And being demiaroace is just basically having all of your relationships be friends to lovers, isn't it?"